ULTIMATELY it was a tale of glorious failure.
A Herculean effort proved in vain as Liverpool bowed out of the Europa League on the away goals rule at the hands of Zenit St Petersburg.
For so long it appeared a new chapter was about to be written in the club's folklore on a thrilling night at Anfield.
From the depths of despair following Hulk's early strike, Brendan Rodgers's side produced a heroic display as they threatened to pull off a miraculous comeback.
It's been a long time since this famous ground was rocked to its foundations like this. Supporters responded to Rodgers'a rallying call for Zenit to experience 'the power of Anfield' and that spine-tingling backing inspired those in red.
Two sweetly struck free-kicks from the outstanding Luis Suarez – sandwiched by Joe Allen's strike – put Liverpool on the brink of a remarkable achievement.
The hosts still had half an hour to find a fourth goal and secure their passage to the last 16 but somehow the Russian champions clung on.
The bitter disappointment etched across the players' faces at the final whistle will have been eased by the applause cascading down from all sides of Anfield.
The fans could have asked no more. Rodgers's side gave everything they had and were running on empty long before the end.
In truth this was a tie which was lost in the Petrovksy Stadium a week earlier when chances were spurned and defensive lapses in concentration had been ruthlessly punished. The mountain was just too big to climb.
With Daniel Sturridge and Philippe Countinho both ineligible for European duty, Rodgers opted to replace them with Joe Allen and Jordan Henderson in the only changes following Sunday's 5-0 rout of Swansea City.
Before kick-off there was a rousing rendition of You'll Never Walk Alone and a packed crowd provided a deafening soundtrack to a night packed full of drama.
Liverpool started with real intent at a high tempo as they pinned Zenit back. However, for all their possession and moments of promise they failed to get in behind the Russians, who dealt with the early onslaught.
Suarez narrowly failed to latch on to Jose Enrique's enticing lofted pass and then when Henderson dispossessed Alexsandr Anyukov he fired tamely at Vyacheslav Malafeev.
Just when momentum appeared to be growing disaster struck in the 19th minute.
Jamie Carragher's scuffed backpass handed Hulk a clear run on goal and the Brazilian striker coolly slotted past Pepe Reina.
It was a painful error from the vice-captain who held his head in his hands as the Russians celebrated.
Carragher's 150th European appearance for Liverpool will be his last, but there were no accusing fingers pointed in his direction and rightly so. After everything he has given for the cause over the past 16 years he has no need to offer any apologies.
Typically, Carragher dusted himself off and was a rock for the rest of the evening but, suddenly, a daunting task was looking virtually impossible.
The Kop demanded an immediate response to that devastating setback and with the words 'attack, attack, attack' ringing in their ears Liverpool switfly delivered.
Nine minutes later Zenit's lead on the night was wiped out. Daniel Agger exchanged passes with Allen and embarked on a surging run forward.
Agger was cynically upended by Nicolas Lombaerts 20 yards out and Suarez stepped up to fire the free-kick through a gap in the wall to leave Malafeev beaten.
Suarez's 24th goal of the campaign provided a glimmer of hope and the Reds pressed forward in search of greater reward.
It took a fine defensive header from Igor Denisov to prevent Agger from connecting with Gerrard's delivery at the back post.
At the other end there was relief when Danny's crisp volley flew narrowly wide as Zenit demonstrated their threat on the counter-attack.
However, there was only brief respite for Luciano Spalletti's side. The Reds were firmly in control and they struck again two minutes before the break.
Enrique was excellent down the left and his neat one-two with Henderson carved Zenit apart.
The left-back's cross deflected into the path of Allen. The Welshman's header was parried by Malafeev but he reacted to stick away the rebound.
Zenit were clearly rattled and the half-time whistle was greeted with the kind of roar which told them to make the most of their breather.
Attacking the Kop in the second half, Liverpool were relentless as they hustled and harried the Russians into making mistakes.
Their cause should have been boosted by a penalty five minutes after the interval. Tomas Hubocan clearly controlled the ball with his arm in the box but to the Reds' dismay Dutch referee Bjorn Kuipers waved play on.
Suarez almost made the decision academic but his low strike was tipped behind by Malafeev.
Liverpool simply dusted themselves off and went again. Just before the hour mark they had their third.
Suarez was tripped by Luis Neto 25 yards out and once again the Uruguayan took responsibility, curling an unstoppable free-kick into the top corner.
Anfield erupted and belief surged through the veins. Rodgers had been planning a double change and surprisingly the goal didn't alter his plans.
Jonjo Shelvey and Oussama Assaidi were introduced at the expense of Allen and Henderson.
It was risky with the Reds so firmly in control but with fresh legs the chances kept on coming.
After Assaidi had been tugged back by Neto, Suarez's low free-kick was pushed away by Malafeev.
The keeper then clawed behind Gerrard's acrobatic volley after he had flapped at Enrique's cross.
As the minutes ticked away the anxiety levels inside Anfield were cranked up and there was a major let-off when Agger gave it away inside his own penalty area. Reina saved his blushes with a brilliant finger-tip save.
Shelvey could have been the hero but he fired into side netting when well placed and then Agger headed wide. Raheem Sterling replaced Stewart Downing and in a frenetic finale even Reina ventured forward but there was no way through.
There will be no silver lining to this season. But this wasn't a night for recriminations as Liverpool exited Europe with their heads held high.
Liverpool (4-1-4-1): Reina, Johnson, Carragher, Agger, Enrique, Lucas, Downing (Sterling 84), Gerrard, Allen (Shelvey 60), Henderson (Assaidi 60), Suarez.
Not used: Coates, Suso, Gulacsi, Wisdom.
Zenit (4-3-3): Malafeev, Anyukov, Neto, Lombaerts (Criscito 45), Hubocan, Denisov, Witsel, Shirokov, Danny (Fayzulin 45), Hulk, Semak (Rodic 84).
Not used: Zhernov, Alves, Bukharov, Kerzhakov.
Referee: Bjorn Kuipers
Attendance: 43, 026
Goals: Hulk 19, Suarez 28, Allen 43, Suarez 59.
Bookings: Denisov, Shelvey.